A Congregation Is Born in Vinings

A Congregation Is Born in Vinings

In the fall of 2010, a group of Jewish residents at the One Vinings Mountain condo complex, many of whom had nowhere else to go, decided to hold their own Rosh Hashanah service.

The service was led by Glenn Hirsch, a family physician in East Cobb, and planned by his wife, Lynn, who had moved into OVM a year before.

Although they struggled to gather a minyan that first year, High Holiday services have since become a tradition. This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, more than 20 “congregants” are expected to attend.

OVM ark builders Joel Katzowitz and Albert Pinto pose with their handiwork.
OVM ark builders Joel Katzowitz and Albert Pinto pose with their handiwork.

The services are informal and intimate. They began as a way to fill a void in the lives of Jewish residents at the high-rise condo building in Vinings.

“It’s that kind of thing where you don’t want anybody sitting home alone,” Lynn Hirsch said. “A lot of these people didn’t really have anywhere else to go for the holidays.”

Her husband, who was brought up in a Conservative synagogue and was well trained by his Hebrew school teachers, took on the role of the rabbi, and “Congregation OVM” was born. Last year a luncheon was added after Rosh Hashanah services to further create a feeling of community for the small group.

During Rosh Hashanah services at OVM in 2015, a passing comment by Lynn Hirsch about the lack of an aron kodesh (holy ark) for the congregation’s small Torah turned into an impressive project by Joel Katzowitz and Albert Pinto.

The two congregants designed a fully functioning ark out of solid cherrywood, walnut and stained glass.

The two men “each have an incredible talent,” Lynn Hirsch said. “Together they created this beautiful piece of Judaica. It’s amazing that people are so invested in our congregation that they would want to do that.”

The completed ark represents an abstracted mountain, drawing inspiration from Mount Sinai as well as One Vinings Mountain. Pinto did the stained-glass work; Katzowitz oversaw the woodwork.

The newly built ark was due to be dedicated at Rosh Hashanah services Monday, Oct. 3.

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